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State confirms USF president pick Steve Currall

Currall will replace longtime USF president Judy Genshaft on July 1.
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Steve Currall is shown interviewing to be the University of South Florida's next president. He was picked for the job March 22, and today state leaders confirmed his appointment.
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times Steve Currall is shown interviewing to be the University of South Florida's next president. He was picked for the job March 22, and today state leaders confirmed his appointment.
Published Mar. 28, 2019
Updated Mar. 28, 2019

Steve Currall is officially the University of South Florida’s next president, following a unanimous vote Thursday by state higher education leaders to confirm his nomination by USF leadership.

The Board of Governors for the State University System praised Currall during a meeting in Tallahassee, calling him a “perfect fit” for the position, which he will assume July 1 as longtime USF president Judy Genshaft retires.

“USF is in a great position … and we needed to find someone who would continue that path and take USF to even greater heights,” said Darlene Jordan, one of 17 members on the board. “I believe we found that person in Dr. Currall.”

Later, she told the president-elect: “It’s almost like your background was designed for you to be president of this institution at this time.”

RELATED: Steven Currall selected as USF’s next president

Between now and Currall’s first day, the university has various “transition” activities planned for him, such as meeting with existing administrators at USF and key constituents in the Tampa Bay area. He also will be trained on Florida’s Sunshine Law and spend time with Genshaft, the university said.

There are plans, too, to register him for a seminar for new presidents at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Massachusetts. The event, which begins July 5, costs $10,500, according to Harvard’s website, and aims to “prepare for the responsibilities that await in your new role as a college/university president.”

After that, Currall will meet with faculty leadership at USF and attend meetings with community leaders, lawmakers and the university’s major donors, according to a transition schedule. In addition, he will participate in “media training” by a professional consultant and develop goals for the coming year in collaboration with USF’s board of trustees.

Currall was chosen to lead USF by trustees on March 22. He was one of four finalists picked from a group of more than 30 applicants drawn in a six-month search process organized by a private consultant group. During interviews, he answered questions comfortably and shared ideas about advancing USF’s presence in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.

Currently, Currall is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Before that, he served in various leadership positions at the University of Calfornia, Davis. He holds a doctorate in organizational behavior and a master’s degree in social psychology.

Brian Lamb, chairman of USF’s board of trustees, introduced Currall at Thursday’s meeting. He said he believes the new president will “inspire our students and faculty to continue to achieve greatness.”

Currall “has demonstrated a track record and knowledge around doing the right thing and cultivating opportunities,” Lamb added.

Addressing state leaders, Currall called USF a “young, agile and nimble” university that has much left to achieve. He noted his commitment to monitoring metrics related to student success and answered questions from the board about fundraising, research and his understanding of multi-campus systems like USF.

“I am humbled and excited about the prospect of continuing the extraordinary momentum of president Judy Genshaft,” Currall said before the vote. “It has been an amazing legacy that she has left for us all at USF, and we are committed to working night and day to extending that legacy, and increasing the slope of the trajectory of the university even further.”

MORE: After 18 years, USF president Judy Genshaft announcing plans to retire

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.